Isiah Brown has announced his intent to transfer from Northwestern.
The rising junior guard played just sparingly as a sophomore, in what was a step back from a promising freshman campaign. His minutes dropped from 14.8 in 2016-2017 to 10.8 in 2017-2018, and his scorer fell from 6.3 points per game to 3.9 points per game.
The cause of Brown’s decline in role and production was likely his mistake-prone play. He turned the ball over too often to spell starter Bryant McIntosh at point guard for long stretches, and his defense wasn’t good.
But Brown was talented. He scored in double figures nine times as a freshman, and several of those performances came in big moments, notably outbursts against Ohio State, Rutgers and Indiana when the rest of the Wildcats’ offense needed a lift.
His transfer has several implications.
First off, Northwestern’s depth at guard takes a hit. With McIntosh leaving, Jordan Ash remains the only guard on the current roster. Incoming freshman Jordan Lathon will be in the rotation next season, and could potentially start at the one if he impresses.
Still, with Scottie Lindsey also graduating, Chris Collins could be in the market for a graduate transfer. It’s too early to know who that could be, but, assuming Brown is able to transfer and there isn’t a Johnny Vassar-like situation (please no, for so many reasons), Northwestern will have an open scholarship.
A.J. Turner will be eligible next season and could play shooting guard for stretches, as could Vic Law, Anthony Gaines or Miller Kopp, but all three figure more as wings than ball handlers or lead guards. Adding another guard would provide needed insurance for a potential injury or the possibility of Lathon not being able to contribute meaningfully right away.
Aside from the roster impacts, Brown’s transfer reflects poorly on Collins. It would be one thing if Brown were a recruiting whiff by the coaching staff at a time when Northwestern didn’t really have any success or facilities to pitch. But that isn’t the case. Brown carved out a rotation spot on an NCAA Tournament team as a true freshman. He made mistakes early on, but most definitely helped Northwestern qualify for its first-ever March Madness. He showed he had the ability to score and be efficient for stretches, albeit not consistently.
That Collins couldn’t find a consistent role for Brown this season, or at least coach Brown to get more out of him in his time on the court, is disappointing. It’ll hurt Northwestern in the future too; I see no way that Brown’s decision to transfer is a positive for the program. It isn’t crippling, but it adds even more weight onto an incoming recruiting class that already carries great expectations.
This whole situation is unfortunate for all involved.